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Vox writer ANNABELLE BRASNELL probes into some of the unenlightened laws governing sexual
activity in Trinidad and Tobago.
Attorney Christlyn Moore aided with explanations and insights.
KATHY complained of being raped by her girlfriend. Wilson was forced to have sex with his
girlfriend. Neither of them have any legal way of getting justice because the law does not
recognise a woman's ability to commit rape. (See side bar)
This topic has been a sore one as many people think that a woman cannot be raped by
another woman or a man by a woman. Attorney Christlyn Moore begs to differ. Once
penetration has taken place with out consent, rape has occured. It is still argued that
women do not possess the physical means for penetration, but with the growing number of
stores catering to any sexual need, women can perform penetration during sex.
In Wilson's case he was stimulated against his will, through threats of violence. How can
someone become aroused in duress? All it needs is for blood to rush to the penis for
erection to occur-it is not strictly in the mind as some people think.
Moore agrees that children need to be protected, but why are males under the age of 14
incapable of committing rape? (See sidebar) It is interesting that male homosexuality is
illegal but lesbianism isn't. Queen Victoria said, "Women don't do that."
Moore concedes to the fact that the law may have been created when it was inconceivable
that children could have been so violent as to commit rape. Though the law seemingly seeks
to keep children innocent-close your eyes and the problem will go away-or pretends that
they are innocent, they are not all so. The very real possibility of rape by someone-not
just male-under 14 does exist. Children are no longer as innocent as they used to be and
if they are capable of committing murder, as is proved every day in the international
media, they are capable of other violent acts like rape.
Moore says, "Children need to be protected, to a point. Some of them need to be held
culpable for their acts." Though they cannot be hanged they should be held
A man can commit sexual assault-not rape-against his wife. Like rape, sexual assault is,
by definition, sex committed through force or fear. Rape carries up to life imprisonment
and sexual assault has a maximum penalty of 15 years. So why is it that a man can sexually
assault his wife but is liable for a lesser sentence than a rapist, when they would have
both committed the same physical act?
Moore states that she has problems with one particular sexual activity-incest. Besides
being biologically unsound, incest fosters a great sense of betrayal which studies show
has countless ripple effects. It is also a violation of the sanctity of the home which
totally destroys trust and lives. These cases show quite aptly that the law leaks and
therefore should be stopped in order that our collective faith in it remains.
Editor's note: The scenarios presented here are hypothetical. Any similarity to any person
living or dead, is purely coincidental.
So who are they offending anyway?
1. A person who commits bestiality is guilty of an offence and is liable on conviction to
imprisonment for life.
2. In this section "bestiality" means sexual intercourse per anum or per vaginum
by a male or female person with an animal.
Moore is of the opinion that what any body wants to do sexually is nobody's business,
For many young men in rural communities, a normal rite of initiation into sexual activity
is through sex with an animal. This offence- bestiality-carries a maximum of up to ten
years imprisonment upon conviction. So who is offended if someone chooses an alternate way
into the study halls of sex? Moore states, "This is a prevalent thing in these
communities and unless the person is a serious threat to farm life."
An act (whether natural or unnatural) by a person involving the use of the genital organs
for the purpose of arousing or gratifying sexual desire is seriously indecent. If you are
married or you and your partner (male/female) are both above sixteen you can enjoy oral
sex or kinky sex for your gratification: in private. Once again the law has no provisions
for same sex relations.
It is advisable that if you enjoy "sex per anum" that you should "keep it
in the family". Pull the curtains, lock the doors and do not set up any video
recording equipment as tapes can come back to haunt you, because you are not allowed this
particular enjoyment, even in the privacy of your home. There is no mention of
female/female buggery/sodomy so lesbians should be able to practice without fear of
persecution and ten years in jail.
People park their privately owned cars on Chancery Street, Port of Spain with the tinted
windows up; are they in a private or a public place? The Criminal Offences act which
covers indecent exposure-public and indecent exposure of the person-makes allowances for
"imprisonment for any term warranted by law, and also to be kept to hard labour
during the whole or any part of such term of imprisonment."
Who are they offending if they're on the road in a private car enjoying private episodes?
What makes this public?
"Any person who sends any message by telephone which is grossly offensive or of an
indecent, obscene, or menacing character...is liable on summary conviction to a fine of
$200 or to imprisonment for one month." Summary Offences Act Section 106 (a).
So who is offended when someone and their lover enjoy having "indecent" or
"obscene" conversations on the phone? What about the phone sex lines and 1-900
lines? Who are they offending anyway? Certainly not the person who make private calls for
their own obscene gratification.
What's up with this anyway?
During the research for this article, it became clear that there are some laws which are
arcane and allow people to reach into private lives and cause havoc, since there are no
provisions to make these violators responsible for their actions. Some of these laws also
seek to make innocent people victims. The legislation needs to be revised so as to be more
encompassing and curtail criminal activity.
Sexual Offences Act 1986 Part one, section 4.
1. A male person commits the offence of rape when he has sexual intercourse with a female
person who is not his wife either-
(a) without her consent where he knows that she does not consent to the intercourse or he
is reckless as to whether she consents to it; or
(b) with her consent where the consent -
(i) is extorted by threats or fear of bodily harm to her or to another; or
(ii) is obtained by personating her husband; or
(iii) is obtained by false and fraudulent representations as to the nature of the act.
2. A male person who commits the offence of rape is liable on conviction to imprisonment
of committing the offence of rape.
3. A male person under the age of 14 years is deemed incapable of committing to offence of
Sexual Offences Act 1986 Part one, section 15.
1. A person who indecently assaults another is guilty of an offence and is liable on
conviction to imprisonment for five years.
2. A person under the age of 16 years cannot in law give any consent which would prevent
an act being an assault for purposes of this section.
3. In this section, "indecent assault" means an assault accompanied by words or
circumstances indicating an indecent intention.
Sexual Offences Act 1986 Part one, section 6
(1) where a male person has sexual intercourse with a female person who is not his wife
and who is under the age of fourteen years, he is guilty of an offence, whether or not the
female person consented to the intercourse and whether or not at the time of the
intercourse he believed her to be fourteen years of age or more, and is liable on
conviction to imprisonment for life.
(2) Where a marriage is invalid under section 13 of the Matrimonial Proceedings and
Property Act, the invalidity does not make the man guilty of an offence under this section
because he had sex with the wife, if he believes her to be his wife and has reasonable
cause for the belief.
Fifty eight year old Denise Hicks, the first woman in Barbados to be accused of raping a
man, was freed on Wednesday April 8, mainly because of ambiguities in that country's laws
that govern rape.
Under section three of the Barbados Sexual Offences Act any person can commit a rape. But
the act goes on to deal with penetration, and as stated by Hick's Attorneys Wayne Clarke
and Laurie-Ann Smith, "It doesn't arise in this situation. It doesn't apply the other
way around because the woman cannot penetrate the man."
They further stated that, "For a woman to rape a man she must insert an object into
his anus or mouth."
The alleged victim-her former fiancÚ-offered no resistance because he "thought he
was in control, but lost the war under tactile stimulation for fifteen minutes", and
did not make a report to the police until four days later.